Ensuring COVID-19 Vaccines for Migrant and Immigrant Farmworkers

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  • 1 Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases and International Medicine, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota;
  • 2 Migrant Clinicians Network, Austin, Texas;
  • 3 Department of Medicine, Division of General Internal Medicine, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota;
  • 4 Center for Global Health and Social Responsibility, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Migrant and immigrant farmworkers are cornerstones to food security and production in many nations. In the United States, farmworkers have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. Because they are considered essential workers, vaccines may be made imminently available to them and offer an opportunity to reduce these COVID-19–related impacts. It is essential for a successful vaccination campaign to address the unique challenges arising from this workforce’s inherently mobile nature and limited access to healthcare. Proposed strategies to overcome these challenges include ensuring farmworkers are prioritized in vaccine allocation and provided cost-free vaccines at convenient locations through partnerships among health authorities, community- and faith-based groups, and health centers with trusted community relationships. Further, a portable immunization record should be used, and coordination of care continued when a farmworker moves to a new geographic location. If implemented well, vaccinating farmworkers can reduce the COVID-19 disease burden among these essential workers, improve public health, and protect food and agriculture production.

Author Notes

Address correspondence to Christine M. Thomas, University of Minnesota, 420 Delaware St. SE, Mayo D416, Minneapolis, MN 55455. E-mail: thom7433@umn.edu

Authors’ addresses: Christine M. Thomas, Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases and International Medicine, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, E-mail: thom7433@umn.edu. Amy K. Liebman and Alma Galván, Migrant Clinicians Network, Austin, TX, E-mails: aliebman@migrantclinician.org and agalvan@migrantclinician.org. Jonathan D. Kirsch, Department of Medicine, Division of General Internal Medicine, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, E-mail: kirsch@umn.edu. William M. Stauffer, Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases and International Medicine, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN and Center for Global Health and Social Responsibility, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, E-mail: stauf005@umn.edu.

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